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The Scafolding VS. the Forest

Uploaded by queencaitlyn on Feb 26, 2001

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, a dark tale of sin and redemption, centers on the small Puritan community of Boston during the seventeenth century. In the center of this bustling community is the market place. With in it are all the central features of the town, the most symbolic of these is the scaffold. Many a soul is scarred upon this scaffold. It is a place of intense scrutiny and upon it, reality comes into a brutal light. In exceptional contrast to the scaffold is the forest beyond the town. Here, there is no judgement and reality waxes and wanes. Hawthorne creates this place for the characters to escape and themselves without restraint or worry. The comparison is clear: the market place, especially the scaffold, represents the harsh reality of Puritan society and the forest provides escape.

The scaffold is the center of criticism. Here, any unfortunate soul to climb the stairs is subject to the superficial examination by the eyes of society. Those below the scaffold see a light of the character distorted by their own jealousies and suspicions, and clouded by gossip. Where the truth may be unacceptable to them, it is substituted by things society coerced them to believe. Those on the scaffold experience reality. The only comfort is the ability to see beyond the town from this pernicious pedestal. As Hester spends her allotted time in the spotlight, her mind escapes as she gazes off into the distance. But while some are able to escape, others such as Dimmesdale, find the probing eyes unbearable. To him, the scaffold represented guilt and shame.

In the market place emotions and true feelings are suppressed and overwhelmed by the importance of conformity. With out an escape, Hawthorne’s characters would have never completely come to life. The forest is also a location where the truth is not forbidden, but embraced. After Hester's judgment on the scaffold, she and her daughter Pearl find refuge there. The trees of the forest, unlike the people in town, listen to and welcome them, sins and all. On the edge of the forest, Hester and Pearl see the town and know that they do not belong. Their knowledge of the truth is dangerous to the townspeople. Therefore, they choose to live in their own world, free from the perception of the town. Hester is weary of the town, warning Pearl "We must not always talk...

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Uploaded by:   queencaitlyn

Date:   02/26/2001

Category:   The Scarlet Letter

Length:   3 pages (731 words)

Views:   1606

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